GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Pheasant and quail season is big bucks for the local economy, and this year, those birds could be cash cows for the hunters.
“When I was very young, 13 years old, I got my first shotgun with my dad,” said hunter John Green. “Our first trip to go hunting was for quail, and then just within a week later or so, we went pheasant hunting, and a pheasant was the first bird that I ever got.”
Pheasant and quail season kicks off on Saturday, and hunters are excited.
“It just seems like the pheasant hunting especially is getting better and better every year,” said Green.
The pheasant population has been going up lately.
“In years past, we’ve had a lot more water and precipitation,” said Caitlin Matile with Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, “so you’re going to start seeing a lot more pheasant, and probably about 5 years ago, we had a big drought. Wasn’t that good, but as we’ve progressed throughout the years, it’s really getting stronger.”
That turnaround is a good sign for the local economy.
“In Finney County alone,” said Matile, “hunting has about a half a million dollar impact, so I would say it’s very significant here in southwest Kansas.”
To help capitalize on hunting tourism, 50 banded pheasants were released on Friday. Hunters will receive a Visa gift card for shooting one.
The lucky hunter that shoots one specific pheasant has the chance at a million dollars, but for some, it’s not about the money.
“When I do go out and I do knock down that first pheasant, it’s always reminiscent of the great times a father and son can have,” said Green.
Kansas wildlife officials say about half of the 80,000 hunters who take part in pheasant season will be coming from out of state.